Matthew Scott Montgomery is ready to share his story.
The actor—best known for his role as Matthew Bailey in the Sonny With a Chance spin-off So Random!—opened up about his coming out journey as a gay man. Having grown up with "very, very conservative" parents, Matthew said that he spent most of his younger years hiding his authentic self, going so far as to attend conversion therapy during his days off from work as a Disney Channel star.
Matthew went on to clarify that Disney "had nothing to do" with his decision to seek conversion therapy, but rather he agreed to it in response to his parents' "nightmare" reaction to him coming out following his 18th birthday.
"You have to understand that in the environment that I grew up in, you're taught that you deserve to be punished all the time," he explained to Christy, who's a Disney Channel alum herself. "At the time, the career stuff was going so well that I was like still in this broken prison brain of thinking, 'I'm on red carpets. I'm on TV every week. This is too good, I should be punished on my days off.'"
Matthew said he started visiting a center advertised "for gay men who wanted to be turned from gay to straight and make it as a straight movie star" for three hours every week. Some of the so-called "homework" assigned as part of the program included filling out worksheets detailing his feelings for other men, playing football and apologizing to his dad for being "a sensitive, artistic little boy."
Eventually, the sessions turned to electric shock therapy, with Matthew receiving a small zap every time he would think of showing affection for another man. "I would have these silver rods that I would have to hold in my hands," he recalled. "They would try to build up your tolerance for the electric shock until it was painful."
The Smosh star said he walked away from it all after seeing the parallels between his life and a play he had worked on, in which the main character is abused by his family for being gay before being adopted by the neighbors. "I think that was the therapy I actually needed," Matthew shared, "because I got the experience of what it was like to have a family not only love me, but celebrate me and really accept me."
His close bonds with Hayley Kiyoko and Demi Lovato also helped him learn what true acceptance feels like. "Demi's family. That's my family, that's my soulmate," Matthew said. "That's the person who loves me the deepest. At that point, I was able to begin to carefully curate a life that was filled with love and art and expression that was satisfying me."
Although Matthew deals with some "side effects" stemming from conversion therapy, he said he's "never been happier" since coming out.
"If you're listening to this and you either have been through conversion therapy or thinking about it," he added, "there's nothing wrong with you. There's not a thing in the world wrong with you. You are loved. You deserve to have a perfect beautiful life."